Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism is the unnatural grinding or clenching of our teeth that can cause severe wear as well as lead to jaw pain. People grind their teeth unconsciously during the day as well as while they sleep. This constant pressure harms our teeth, wears them down, and can affect the muscles and tissues in and around the jaw. This common problem can be remedied with a teeth guard, otherwise known as a nightguard.
Teeth Grinding and Bruxism Symptoms
Persistent grinding of the teeth can have a negative effect on tooth enamel, bone, gums and the jaw. The causes surrounding bruxism vary but are generally attributed to stress, anxiety, tension, misaligned teeth, posture, diet, sleeping habits, and other factors. Teeth grinding is most prevalent in women and generally found in about one-third of the population, estimated at 20 percent of the population doing so during waking hours and 8 percent during sleep. The common symptoms of grinding teeth are:
- Sore jaw
- Worn front teeth
- Micro-cracks and broken fillings
- Sensitive teeth caused by teeth that are worn
- Gum recession
- Loose teeth
Teeth grinding as it relates to stress and anxiety tie a direct correlation to people who react to these feelings with anger, pain, frustration, aggression or competition. Individuals with bruxism may have other biting habits, such as biting fingernails, pencils, lips, or the insides of their cheeks.
The constant grinding or clenching of one’s teeth can often contribute to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction, which has a long list of side effects associated with pain in the head and neck. The constant rubbing of teeth will result in surface wear over time, which will cause dental problems as well as insomnia, eating disorders, and depression if left untreated.
Although it seems strange that we may be able to treat an unconscious habit we can! Dr. Winters or Dr. Hodges will perform a thorough evaluation to check your teeth, tissues, and muscles to make a determination if you suffer from bruxism. If it is determined that you are a bruxer, we’ll create an orthodontic appliance, also called a nightguard or splint, to prevent grinding and clenching. This often eliminates the problems associated with bruxism. However, if the problem cannot be remedied with the use of a nightguard, we can prescribe alternative therapies to correct the issue.
These other therapies may include stress and anxiety management, focused facial relaxation, massage and stretching of face and neck muscles, applying ice or wet heat, proper rest, eating soft foods, and hydrating the body. If your teeth were damaged because of bruxism, or if we find TMJ to be a factor, our team will repair and treat you to provide complete relief. For more information about teeth grinding or to schedule an appointment with a dentist, please contact our office at (918) 528-3330 today.